I am pleased to say that with effect from 26 April 2021, both of our Centres re-opened and we are absolutely delighted! This has been a very long and frustrating journey with a couple of false starts and multiple cancellations of various activities and events, so it was with a real sense of relief when we took the decision that we could and should get back to work. We spent some time recreating what we felt was a COVID secure environment reflected in one-way systems around the Centres, hand sanitising stations on every corner, masks, PPE and a variety of other measures. With the support of our Patients, we have made the system work and recreated what we felt was about 85% of a normal Patient treatment experience.
We know that we are not out of the woods yet and there are a series of milestones that we must meet in England and Scotland to move things forward, however, there is now a real sense of optimism that courtesy of the extended lockdown and of course the vaccination programme, we are really heading in the right direction. That was reflected in the latest changes in the Centre in the middle of May when we were able to dispense with our one-way systems and outdoor group exercise classes. Although this was a small change, psychologically it was an important one as it reinforced the view amongst both Staff and Patients, that we were looking to the future. The next set of key dates will be in June. Although I think that all of us have quite rightly got into the habit of being cautious and believing good news when we actually see it happening, if everything plays out as we hope, we anticipate a return to full normality by then. We are still running both Centres at just over 50% occupancy so that normality in June will hopefully include full 100% admission.
For those of you who have followed the rather long and tortuous path of the build of our new Clinical Services Wing at PTC Harrogate, you will be pleased to hear that we are now almost there. The project has been delayed by some weeks but we have now finally taken delivery of one of the Wings and the second one will follow shortly. By the time we get to the middle of June, both Wings will be fully completed, fitted out, furnished and ready to be used. The timing could not be better as we know that there is a growing waiting list for treatment. The new wings will allow us to drive down some of the delays and treat our Patients much more quickly and more effectively.
In terms of other key milestones, I know that many of you will want to know when we intend to resume B&B bookings. This is now confirmed as July 2021. The treatment of our Patients is always the most important aspect of what we do at the PTC so we wanted to ensure that we prioritise this first. The time is now right to start thinking about the resumption of some of our other activities as well.
We were also proud to receive a mention in the House of Lords on Tuesday 18th May 2021 when our President Baroness Angela Harris of Richmond took the opportunity during the debate on the Queen’s Speech, to highlight the excellent work of the PTC. As far as we are aware, this is the first mention of the PTC in the House of Lords and we are very grateful to our hugely enthusiastic and very engaged President for highlighting our work in this way. If you want to read the full transcript of the speech, please click on this link https://bit.ly/3i2XOYp
Although the PTC and St George’s Police Children’s Trust (SGPCT) are separate Charities, they are of course inextricably linked and we often find that there is an overlap of our Beneficiaries between both charities. We continued to run SGPCT normally during the lockdown, but we are always looking for ways to ensure that the Charity is more reflective of modern policing. One of my concerns has always been that some of our potential new donors to SGPCT would only ever see the charity as an organisation that would provide support if they were to die or be medically retired. I was therefore delighted when at the beginning of this year, the Trustees decided to extend the benefit of SGPCT to the children and families of Serving Officers, to allow them to access grants for child counselling and wellbeing grants. There is no doubt that the pressures and stresses of modern policing wash over to and impact on the families of Police Officers as well. It is therefore hugely important that this change is now going to be able to make a difference to many future Beneficiaries, to help them when they most need it, and whilst their Police parent is still serving. You do have to be a current donor to benefit from the grants on offer, so do please look at the SGPCT website to check the eligibility requirements and the fantastic range of benefits on offer, all for the very modest sum of a donation of £1.50 per month.
Finally, for those of you who have read this blog before, you will know that I normally have lots of news about visitors to the Centres and our visits out and about the PTC constituency area. Visitors have been in short supply recently for obvious reasons but I am very pleased to say that like everything else, they do seem to now be now picking up. In the last 2 weeks we have had a visit by Nobby Goodband, the Chair of the BTP Federation, who is also a new PTC Trustee. He was accompanied by two of his colleagues from BTP’s Occupational Health Department. On 27th of May, a group from the West Midlands Police Federation, who recently joined the PTC, also came for their first visit to PTC Harrogate. Both visits were welcome reminders of the value of a visit in person and to really understand the PTC, you have to see everything that we provide. Both groups were hugely impressed to see first-hand what we do and how we do it. Over the next few months, we hope to get through the long list of visitors that have been building up, taking the opportunity to both showcase our work and update our visitors on some of the recent changes.
I shall close on that note. This has been a long haul for all of us but the PTC is now back and open. We have lots of plans for what we are going to do this year and beyond and we will continue to take huge pride in delivering the class leading treatment that we have become universally admired and respected for, to the best Police Service in the world.
Stay safe everyone.